LISBON (Reuters) – Arsenal edged closer to the Europa League knockout stages after a Danny Welbeck goal gave them a 1-0 win at Sporting, while Real Betis pulled off the early shock of the evening with a 2-1 win at AC Milan on Thursday.
RB Leipzig brushed aside Celtic 2-0 to boost their own hopes of reaching the last 32 from Group B where Salzburg maintained their perfect record with a 3-0 rout of Norwegians Rosenborg.
Welbeck struck a 79th-minute winner for Arsenal with a crisp low shot from 15 metres through the legs of the home team’s keeper Renan Ribeiro, who had produced a string of good saves in a fast-paced contest.
Ribeiro twice denied Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang early in the second half and Welbeck had a goal-bound shot from close range blocked by a defender before he capitalised on a defensive howler by Sebastian Coates.
Arsenal lead the Group E standings with nine points from three games, while second-placed sporting are on six.
Following a last-gasp 1-0 defeat by city rivals Inter in the Serie A on Sunday, Milan’s miserable week continued as goals by Antonio Sanabria and Giovani Lo Celso condemned them to their first Europa League setback after the opening two wins in Group F.
Sanabria silenced the San Siro home crowd when he bundled the ball home from point blank range in the 30th minute and Lo Celso made it 2-0 with a thumping long-range shot shortly after the break.
Patrick Cutrone pulled one back for Milan with an 83rd-minute solo effort but it was too little too late for the winners of seven European Cup titles.
Clinical first-half finishing by Matheus Cunha and Bruma gave Leipzig the win over Celtic, while Salzburg made it three wins out of three thanks to a Munas Dabbur double and a third from Hannes Wolf.
Elsewhere, FC Zurich led and then came from behind to beat Bayer Leverkusen 3-2 at home and Zenit St Petersburg also fought back from a goal down to beat Bordeaux 2-1 at home although Artyem Dzyuba missed a penalty for the Russian side.
Two quickfire goals in the second half enabled Fenerbahce to overcome a 2-0 deficit in a 2-2 draw at Anderlecht and Dinamo Zagreb made it three wins in a row in Group D after recovering from a goal down to beat Spartak Trnava 2-1 away.
In the day’s 1900 GMT standout fixtures, Chelsea are at home to BATE Borisov, Lazio visit Olympique Marseille and Rangers are at home to Spartak Moscow.
(Writing by Zoran Milosavljevic; Editing by Pritha Sarkar)